Family: Woman dead before house caught fire in Middletown

Posted at 11:12 AM, Nov 15, 2016
and last updated 2016-11-15 11:12:11-05

MIDDLETOWN, Ohio -- The family of a woman whose body was found inside a home that caught fire on Jacoby Avenue last week was dead before the blaze, her family told the Journal-News.

“(Police) have told us she didn’t die from the fire,” Tina Payne, the sister of Tiffany Hoskins, a 36-year-old mother of two whose body was found by firefighters, told this news outlet.

Firefighters found flames shooting from the second floor of the home at 1507 Jacoby when they arrived at about 4:20 a.m. Nov. 5. After being told the home was vacant and fighting the blaze for about 10 minutes, firefighters found Hoskins’ body at the top of the home’s stairway.

Hoskins’ cause of death is still pending with the Butler County Coroner’s Office.

Police detectives declined to comment today on the cause of death, but have said the fire is being investigated as an arson.

Detectives have worked non-stop on the investigation in the past week, Middletown police Lt. Jim Cunningham told this news outlet. He said police have served 11 search warrants and are eliminating suspects.

Payne said her younger sister struggled with an addiction to heroin, but had been clean for almost a month. She spent the day before the fire with Hoskins, whom she described as “friendly and someone who never met a stranger.”

“We talked and goofed around. She was great. She had finally gotten clean,” Payne said. “I didn’t know that was the last time I would see her. A week later I am planning her funeral.”

The day of the fire, Hoskins had plans to shop with her mother, but didn’t show up. Payne said their mother called her several times, but got no answer.

They were not concerned when they heard about a person found dead in a home that had caught fire.

“No, we didn’t think about it, because she was clean and doing really well,” Payne said.

But earlier this week, Payne said she fell to her knees when she was told the body found was her sister. Their mother, she said, is devastated.

On Friday, balloons, posters and mementos adorned the fence surrounding the home, and Payne said she is haunted by an image of her sister walking into the home.

Payne said she believes her sister trusted someone too much and they killed her.

“I keep seeing her walk into that house,” Payne said. “I don’t know if she was held against her will. It is terrible.”

Hoskins’ family is also offering a $5,000 reward for information leading to the arrest of the person responsible for her death.

Payne said if people don’t want to call police with tips, they can contact the family at 937-232-4690 or 513-464-1951. She said callers can remain anonymous.

“Somebody has to know something,” Payne said.

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